What can the Lord do with an ordinary stay-at-home mom who is also end-of-life caregiver to a parent with Alzheimer’s disease? Like the parable of the loaves and fishes, all that is needed is the offer of what we have. God provides the increase!
Our feature story highlights the birth of a worldwide missions organization in the life of one woman with a longing to be useful in the kingdom of God and to see His fame spread throughout the world. “What can I do?” she asked.
Read on to see how God answered the prayer of this faithful mom, Jamie Pritchett, “The Coloring Book Lady,” in the birth of the Good News Coloring Book Ministry (www.goodnewscoloringbook.org).
INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE PRITCHETT by ReadPsalm119.com
Jamie, you and I have been friends for many years, traveling and sharing our love of God and His Word together. I am excited to shine a spotlight on this gateway ministry to our readers.
To give a bit of backstory, Jamie’s father was a consular officer for the State Department so she grew up all over the world: Germany, Egypt, the Phillipines, England, and Jamaica. After she met Colonel Larry Pritchett at the Pentagon where they both worked, Larry and Jamie married. While in Texas the Lord blessed them with twins! The family finally settled in Florida where Larry retired and Jamie homeschooled their twin girls. Now grown, they each serve the Lord in ministries of their own.
During this time, Jamie served her family as end-of-life caregiver for her mother-in-law, her father, and then for Larry, each in turn and with grace and honor. Some of her other ministries included leading a teen girls’ Bible study, chaplain training, and personal ministry to the elderly and neighbors. Jamie currently leads a widow’s support group in her church and is venturing forward as a facilitator of a trauma healing ministry with her friend Terri Alexander as coach.
Life brings to each of us ups and downs. I want to share with my readers an illustration of what it means to be “simply faithful” to God in daily life through the difficulties of growth. This will look different as it plays out in each person’s seasons of life.
Specifically, during the intense years of caring for others, an evangelistic ministry was born in her home. God has been faithful. How does God work in the lives of willing ordinary people who take God at His Word? That is the foundation of readpsalm119.com—the honoring of God’s Word in daily life.
So, Jamie, how did you get started with the idea of coloring books and missions?
I was saved, by the Lord himself, at age 22. From that time on, I was always focused on God’s Word. Then a few years after that, I heard a missionary speak at a church conference. It was Bruce Olsen (Bruchko:…,Thomas Nelson, 1992).[i] And just that idea of going out to unreached people and reaching them with the gospel and sharing with them was absolutely riveting to me. It changed my whole view of the Christian life.
What was it that you heard specifically?
He said it then [at the conference], and I read it later in his book, that for the people he was ministering to, it was learning the Word of God that changed their lives.
Returning to your story…
Then I got married, had kids, moved, and got settled into life. I began reading missionary books again. And when my mother-in-law came to live with us the last year of her life—I was homeschooling my two children and my husband was away on business a lot—I picked up Marilyn Lazlo’s book Mission Possible[ii], I came to the part where the people had said to her, “Why did it take you so long to come and tell us?” I was crying my eyes out. I was down on my knees saying, “What can I do, Lord? What can I do? I can’t go anywhere, but what can I do for the kingdom of God?”
And how did the answer come?
My prayer was very sincere. I meant it absolutely. And then, I don’t know how long it was after that, a month or two maybe within that same year, I was cleaning out our school room materials. I had a box of broken crayons I was going to throw out, and I started thinking about how wasteful that was and wondering how they could be used. And then, since I grew up overseas and lived in some third world countries, I knew that children in some places wouldn’t mind having broken crayons.
Then I started thinking how on earth would I send broken crayons to kids in third world countries? Then I thought of my missionary friends and how they go overseas all the time. I thought, “Okay, if you send crayons, you need to send some paper to draw on.” I thought of a coloring book–a coloring book that tells the story of Jesus!
Then I thought of all my translator friends who had already translated the Bible into different languages. It would be simple to make a book using the scriptures alone. And that was it! Suddenly the entire picture came into my mind of the book. It wasn’t the crayons….it was the book!
All of that took maybe one whole minute, the sequencing of thoughts. The whole picture came into my mind and I realized this was from the Lord. And I said out loud, “Okay, Lord. What a great idea for somebody to do.” Then I realized he was showing it to me. I said, “Okay, if this is from you and this is what you want me to do, I’ll do it. I don’t know how, but I will do it.”
So where did it go from there?
So I called my sister, Linda Riddell, who is an artist and a homeschooling mom, and asked her if she could draw a black-and-white, coloring-book style picture of Jesus that looked like a real person. I didn’t want cartoonish figures; I needed them to look like real people.
Why did you want the art to look more realistic than representative?
In a lot of the children’s material I have seen, the characters do not look like human beings at all. They are not realistic. But Jesus and those were around him were real people. If we are sending this to other countries, they need to look like real people, not cartoonish versions of the reality of scripture.
So how did the artwork for the entire coloring book come about?
When I called my sister, she told me she had just drawn a picture for her little boys. I asked her to fax it to me and it, “Jesus with the Little Children,” ended up being the front cover of the coloring book. I told her that was exactly what I had in mind and shared the whole vision with her. She said she had been praying and asking the Lord what she could do [for missions].
I told her, “Start drawing pictures as fast as you can!” because her third child was going to be born in June and I knew that once that child was born she wouldn’t have time to draw anymore. That was about in April or March. So we prayed over which scripture passages to illustrate. She drew the pictures and I scanned and edited them for clarity. She finished the last picture the night her son Luke was born.
So how did you get the publishing process started?
After that, I shared this idea with Malcolm Wild, the pastor of my church at that time, Calvary Chapel of Merritt Island. He was very supportive and encouraged me. He said that I could share it in a Sunday morning church service. When I did that Tina Hedman, who is originally from Finland, came up to me afterwards and asked me if I could do the book in Finnish.
By this time you had a foldable, bound coloring book?
No, we had a whole bunch of pictures in a stack with the scriptures written on the bottom.
So how did it turn into actual book that could be given out?
Tina and her little boy came over to my home and she brought her Finnish bible. She typed the scriptures in Finnish and I formatted the drawings to fit the page. I cut and pasted and we had papers all over the entire house as together we figured out how to do this—how to arrange the story to go through the life of Jesus, depicting his birth, life, death and resurrection.
Tina had a deadline. She was going to Finland in two weeks and we worked like mad on this. We finished the prototype, took it to Office Depot, and printed 100 copies. We stapled and folded them the day before she left. And that was the first book—in Finnish.
So let’s jump forward a bit. In any ministry, we understand that no work of God is a lone project. I’m sure you came to the point where you knew you needed a team and sponsorship for this ministry. How did a team form around the ministry?
At first, I went over to Teen Missions International [iii] and grabbed some of the missionaries to America (students from other countries come to study at Teen Missions). I would borrow Bibles from them and have them help me with translating the prayer and proofing the copy.
And Teen Missions International began taking coloring books on missions trips. How did that get started?
I went to Teen Missions and talked to Bob Lane (former Vice President of the governing board of TMI) and Bob Bland (founder of TMI, and former Director of Youth for Christ). I showed them the idea and asked whether this would be a good resource for their organization. They both were very enthusiastic about it. So the books went out through the Teen Missions trips to countries around the world.
And what was the feedback from those missions trips? How did they use the books?
One of the testimonies I remember very well was the team that took the Bemba language books to Zambia. There had been a drought in the country and TMI was distributing grain to outlying villages. They passed out coloring books with the bags of grain. People were ecstatic to have the Word of God in their own language!
You also had a team back at home donating, collecting, collating, and packaging broken crayons, am I right?
Yes, often at church, after Wednesday night services, we would take all the broken crayons that had been donated and we packaged them in an assembly line. It was a great time of fellowship and fun and many could contribute and be involved in the ministry. A lot of the time, I had printed large number of books that needed to be folded and stapled. So we had folding, stapling and sorting parties.
Young people were helping, too.
It was a mixed gathering of volunteers, much of it being our homeschool group. So it was a mingling of all ages, including my home Bible study of teen-aged girls.
You received much encouraging feedback from the field. Who was using the coloring books? Was it only children?
No, I heard from quite a few different missionaries that they would use them for street witnessing with adults or they would pass them out to the children. When the children couldn’t read them, they would take them to an adult (often a missions worker and later, their own parents) and have them read to them.
How did the parents of children get involved?
I always describe the coloring books as a tract, not just a coloring book. So it can be used either way. A friend and I were in London having dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant. Next to us was a young couple, she with a head-covering and both of them speaking Arabic and English and doing something with their iPhones. I asked questions about internet service at the restaurant and we started chatting.
Then they asked what we did and I explained about the booklets about Jesus. He taught the Qu’ran at a Saudi Arabian university, but he was interested in hearing about Jesus. I reached into my purse and I had only ONE coloring book (where I usually carry several) and this one was an Arabic/English one! I offered it to him and he was very polite and said that he would read it.
I remember when you told me this at the time. When you turned around later you saw both of them reading and discussing it. That is a wonderful story of God’s Providence. When we are willing and prepared, He matches us with the appropriate opportunities! It is also a great point that children are not the only people who enjoy and can use these coloring books!
You found that these colorings books could be used successfully in many other different settings, too. Could you tell me a bit about those settings?
There were three major turning points in the life of GNCB.
First, I made it a non-profit corporation with a team of good friends who were like-
minded as my board: Diana Gustafson and Noi Daniels. Later on, Dan Dooley, full-time missionary to Kenya, became the unofficial East Africa representative of the GNCB ministry. Thanks to him, we have many Kenyan languages!
Second, Greg Peralta, a friend from church, suggested that we scan the books into digital format. I asked him why we would want to do that. He said, “So we can put them up on a website and anyone anywhere can download them.” This became the model of the whole ministry: to make the Gospel of Christ available on the website for free for anyone to be able to access them anywhere in the world.
Third, Bob Yost, a staff member from TMI, asked if I could make one of the books into a dual-language version. Could I make it a Spanish book with English below so they could use it for ESL class? I said “Yes, of course!” and that is how the dual-language books got started. It is now a major component of GNCB. Now most books are dual-language. This makes it so easy to use the book for teaching English class or teaching another language. In parts of the world where English is not spoken, the books can have any two language combinations (e.g., Arabic with French, Farsi with German). It’s easy for me to make almost any combination anyone would like on the computer.
So tell me how the website was developed.
Originally, my church added a page to their website. Later, when the non-profit organization, Good News Coloring Book, Inc., was formed, we moved the website to its own platform. I have just recently updated this platform to make it easier for me to update and add languages, especially when I am traveling to other parts of the world. Initially, I was helped in this by Lindy Coffey, a church friend who was skilled in web design, maintenance and support.
I see that many people, drawn from the larger Church family, have been integral in the foundation and continuance of this ministry. Is there anything you would like to add on that note?
If a work is from God, people will be drawn without having to be drawn in or coerced.
That is a paraphrase from memory, but that is what has been exemplified in this ministry. I shared the ministry and people have just come to help. And that has been absolutely wonderful.
You have attended many missions conferences around the world to tell people about the availability of GNCB for their work. Is there something you would like to share about your experiences in telling people about this ministry?
I had initially thought, and it has proven true, that the coloring books are mostly for use outside of America. In America, there are millions of children’s resources. In other countries, there are no children’s resources whatsoever. So the obvious place to advertise about the availability of the Good News Coloring Book as a resource is at missions conferences.
Usually, I get very enthusiastic responses from missionaries who are currently in the field. Now, since the website has been up for many years, I will get requests from people from those other countries. How he knew about GNCB, I don’t know; but last year a pastor from Kolkata, West Bengal, wrote and asked if we could translate a book into Bengali. Together, we worked on it and it was done within a week and he is now using it for Sunday Schools all around his area of ministry.
GNCB recently had an anniversary! How long has it been from idea to now? How many years?
We did. Last summer, June 2018, was the 20th-year anniversary of GNCB. We are now in our twenty-first year.
How do you envision the future of this ministry?
There are no long-term goals. This has always been day-by-day, “right in front of me” work. And then tomorrow I do what is in front of me tomorrow. As people are requesting languages, which is happening more and more, I work on the first language that is requested. I can do it quickly and put it out there on the website, and then the next one in order from there. I love doing this.
That reflects what our Lord told us when he told us to look to today for tomorrow has it’s own dealings (Matthew 6:34). Yet have you considered a practical exit strategy when you no longer can personally oversee GNCB?
I have been thinking about this. I have been showing my board member and friend, Diana, where everything is located so she can carry on the work, just in case. If something were to happen to me, the website can stay up without any changes as it is right now. The board would carry on. The difficulty is finding somebody with some foreign language knowledge that could put the books together moving forward. We are in prayer about all of this.
What is your foremost prayer for this ministry and for yourself and your team? In other words, how can we pray with you for GNCB?
Number one, is for the contact people to help finish some of the language books that are started and waiting—to translate the prayer and title, and check the books over for accuracy. We are looking for Christian native speakers, specifically.
There are decisions to make as to which conferences to attend and where. There are many excellent missions conferences in different parts of the world. My prayer is always to know which ones I can attend in each year to maximize the use of this resource.
How can our readers support your work?
Number one would be prayer—that I would hear clearly from the Lord, but also against spiritual attack. Last year I experienced a huge spiritual attack of discouragement and anxiety about whether we were headed in a right direction. I always go back to the beginning [of the work] reaffirming this was from the Lord and not myself. One scripture song that encouraged me was “Be Strong and Take Courage” (Don Moen, from Deut. 31:6-12)[v]. I absolutely believe in sending out prayer requests to friends who will pray seriously, and they did.
While I was in the midst of prayer one day, I made my decision to go ahead to a particular conference that was coming up. At the conference, the leaders asked me to share about the ministry. Many people came up to me afterward and told me they had used the coloring books already in teaching English and other ministry opportunities. Further, I had many requests for new languages and a great deal of interest and offers of support from major agencies. It encouraged me greatly that this ministry was from the Lord. The Lord showed me that it was not me, it is Him that is working through His people all over the world to spread His gospel.
Is there a way people reading this can be involved in the ministry goals and offer tangible support to you?
I never like to ask for money. I do believe that if the Lord puts a ministry on a person’s heart then that is between them and the Lord. There is, for convenience, a donation button on the website’s home page for people who would like to make a donation by PayPal or credit card. People can also write a check to the “Good News Coloring Book Ministry,” P.O. Box 541055, Merritt Island, Florida 32954-1055.
Missions or international Christian conferences are the best venue for displaying and distributing the coloring books. I would be interested in hearing of conferences where we may present the ministry at our resource table.
Our culture is so multi-cultural that almost everybody knows somebody who speaks another language. Even if you are living in suburban America, you might know somebody from work or across the street…
…or at a local university…
…yes, anyone with whom you would like to share the gospel. It is so easy, for example, to print off an Arabic-English book and take it to that neighbor or co-worker and say, “Would you read through this and see if it reads okay? I can’t read your language?” Or ask them what a word means and show them the book. I have observed that when people see this booklet in their own language they are always interested.
Surprisingly, from a children’s resource to a literally “age-less” resource, you have seen this used in nursing homes, prison ministries, and many other settings. The usefulness of the coloring books is unlimited, as is the Good News of Christ itself!
When asked once if you intended to expand this ministry to include more product, you declined in order to keep to the original calling of God and not complicate the simplicity of this ministry. I admire that.
Thank you, Jamie, for spending this time with us. You have illustrated how any of us can help spread the gospel of Christ using whatever resources God has given us and at any time and any circumstance. God used you to birth a ministry at a time you least expected it. May God bless you in the work that God has surely given you. †
How about you? What longing has God placed in your heart to serve Him? We are all encouraged to pray a prayer similar to Jamie’s and then to stand back and see what God will do with our little loaves and fishes.
If you do not know Christ, take a look at the Good News Coloring Books, all printable on 8″ x 11″ paper. DOWNLOAD your choice of over 120 languages and language combinations FOR FREE! There are more being added all the time! If you don’t see your language, check their Contacts page and send them a line letting them know what you need.
copyright January 21, 2019 by ReadPsalm119.com
RETURN to Hall of Witnesses…
[i]Bruchko: The Astonishing True Story of a 19-year-Old American, His Capture by the Motilone Indians and His Adventures in Christianizing the Stone Age Tribe, by Bruce Olsen, Thomas Nelson, 1992. An updated version can be found here at Amazon. This is the autobiography of Bruce Olsen.
[ii]Marilyn Laszlo, Mission Possible, Tyndale House; 1998. Christianbook.com(1-800-CHRISTIAN). See also Laszlo Mission League(www.laszlomissionleague.com), for videos and resources on their store’s web page, including Return to Hauna: A Bible Translator’s Story from the Jungles of Papua New Guinea, which is an EXCELLENT 45-minute video for $22 (free shipping). The late Marilyn Laszlo is also on Facebook,
[iii]Teen Missions International, 885 East Hall Road, Merritt Island, Florida 32953, (321) 453-0350, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.teenmissions.org/. “Teen Missions is a pioneer of the concept of providing short-term missions experience for teens with confidence that as young people saw the mission field first-and, they would see the pressing needs of the world.” Learn more on their website!
[iv]Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded. B&H Books, 2008. Note: This is a later edition than the one Jamie would have read at the time. Available at Christianbook.com or Amazon. Bible Study and Leader’s Guide also available at both outlets. The foundational premise for this work, drawn mostly but not exclusively from the illustration of Moses’ life and calling, comes from John 5:17, 19-20, essentially: “Watch to see where God is working and join Him.” This includes a crisis of belief and faith (Hebrews 11), adjusting your life to God, experiencing God through obedience to His Word, and our relationship with God’s holy Church.
[v]Don Moen, “Be Strong and Take Courage”, from the album God With Us and now available on God Will Make a Way: The Best of Don Moen[CD], Provident Music Distribution, 2003. Available for listening: “BE STRONG AND TAKE COURAGE by: Don Moen”, uploaded by yhelldubai, Sep 6, 2009, [YouTube.com]. This song is taken from God’s encouragement to Moses that God will finish the work He had begun in the passing of leadership from Moses to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:6-12, 23; Joshua 1:7).
“Be Strong and Take Courage” by Don Moen
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the one who lives within you
Will be strong in you today…
“The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: ‘Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them and I myself will be with you.'” (Deut. 31:23 NIV)
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:7 NIV)